Hamas hails landmark UN vote on Israel settlements
December 25 2016 01:25 AM
A general view shows part of the Israeli settlement of Maale Edumim, in the occupied West Bank.

AFP/Gaza City, Palestinian Territories

Hamas yesterday welcomed a landmark UN Security Council vote demanding a halt to Israeli settlements in occupied territory, with the Palestinian movement saying it marked an “important evolution.”
The UN Security Council on Friday demanded that Israel halt settlements in Palestinian territory, after the United States refrained from vetoing the resolution condemning its closest Middle East ally.
Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, remains deeply divided from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, which dominates the occupied West Bank.
“Hamas appreciates the position of the countries that voted in the Security Council for the right of the Palestinian people (to live) on their land,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzy Barhoum.
“We salute this important evolution in international positions,” he said, while calling for more such actions to bring about “the end of the occupation.”
Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, but has occupied the West Bank for nearly 50 years.
There have been growing warnings that settlement building in the West Bank is fast eroding the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars with Israel since 2008, while the enclave has been under an Israeli blockade for around a decade.
Its border with Egypt has also remained largely closed.
UN officials have called for the blockade to be lifted, saying conditions are deteriorating in the impoverished territory of 2mn people.
Islamic Jihad, the second-largest force in Gaza, also welcomed the UN vote, with spokesman Daoud Shehab saying it would lead to Israel’s “isolation” and “boycott” while opening it up to prosecution under international law.
Meanwhile, Jordan yesterday welcomed the “historic” UN resolution demanding a halt to Israeli settlements, saying the momentous vote paved a way for a two-state solution.
“This historic decision expresses the consensus of the international community on the illegality of Israeli settlements and reaffirms the Palestinian people’s historic right (to live) in Jerusalem and its historic lands,” Jordan’s information minister Mohamed al-Momani said yesterday.
Some 430,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the West Bank and a further 200,000 Israelis live in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians see as the capital of their future state.
The resolution demands that “Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”
It states that Israeli settlements have “no legal validity” and are “dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-state solution.”
Momani said the resolution reinforced the historic position of Jordan - one of the few Arab states to have diplomatic ties with Israel - on the need for a two state solution.
The Middle East peace process has been comatose since a US initiative to re-launch peace talks collapsed in April 2014.

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